Driving Global Development: A Conversation with Fiorina Mugione

Fiorina Mugione
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Meet Fiorina Mugione, driven by a commitment to social justice and a passion for empowering women, Fiorina Mugione has spent over 30 years shaping global development. From her early days with the Red Cross to her work with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and her current work supporting women-led businesses, Fiorina’s remarkable journey offers valuable insights and inspiration for anyone seeking to create positive change. In the captivating conversation with Ruchi Dwivedi, a friend and well-wisher of SheSight, Fiorina Mugione generously shared insights into her incredible journey spanning over 30 years, marked by determination, passion, and steadfast dedication.

When Ruchi asked Fiorina about her start in international work, Fiorina shared her inspiring journey. Raised in a small Italian town, Fiorina dreamt of making a difference on a global scale. Witnessing the devastation of an earthquake firsthand while volunteering with the Red Cross solidified her passion for humanitarian work. She joined the American Red Cross, dedicating herself to rebuilding efforts and igniting a fire within to pursue a career in international development. Despite doubts about her resilience, Fiorina remained determined to follow her calling. Transitioning to international organisations like the United Nations in Bangkok was a significant step for Fiorina. At the UN in Bangkok, Fiorina’s innovative approach clashed with outdated bureaucracy. Undeterred, she championed process modernization, streamlining operations and ultimately securing buy-in despite initial resistance. This experience instilled in her the value of perseverance and strategic communication in driving change, innovative ideas, and determination; she worked to modernize processes and bring about positive change. Throughout her journey, Fiorina encountered scepticism but refused to let it deter her. She credits her family’s support for fueling her determination to succeed globally despite their initial concerns about her unconventional career path.

Driving global development
Image Courtesy: Source

Fiorina passionately shared her most profound commitment when discussing her love for entrepreneurship with Ruchi. She expressed her mission to empower entrepreneurs to thrive. With her background in trade and investment, Fiorina found joy in supporting small businesses, believing that entrepreneurship is a pathway to empowerment and self-reliance. “I have loved my journey at the UNCTAD Empretec programme; working in 40 countries, Empretec centres empower entrepreneurs to thrive”. She emphasized the importance of breaking barriers for women in business, encouraging them to take control of their futures. Transitioning to investing in women, Fiorina expressed her delight in seeing positive changes in the investment landscape, particularly with sustainable investment options. She highlighted the benefits of investing in women, noting their strong repayment rates and tendency to uplift entire communities with their businesses. “Funding may be a roadblock, but financial resources alone do not work well.  Women entrepreneurs must get support in building self-confidence, planning and risk-taking”. Fiorina also shared insights into various groups and funds dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs globally, such as Prayaana and the Organisation of Women in International Trade that she supports in a board advisory role. She underscored the importance of investing in basic needs like healthcare and education for overall societal progress. Her call for action is “Everyone should work together to bridge the gender gap and create a more equitable world where women can succeed”.

In response to Ruchi’s question about the significance of advocacy groups for women, Fiorina shared her thoughts on how regular people like us can make a big difference. She emphasised the crucial role of civil society in supporting women and highlighted the changing mindset among women towards joining these groups. Fiorina cheered on the resurgence of the feminist spirit, stressing that the fight for women’s rights is ongoing despite past victories. She highlighted the prevalence of violence against women worldwide. She stressed the importance of women uniting to speak out against such injustices, with social media serving as a powerful tool for awareness. Additionally, Fiorina underscored the role of civil society in holding governments and organizations accountable for women’s rights. She encouraged teaching the next generation about gender equality and empowering women to demand fair treatment and opportunities. In Fiorina’s eyes, ordinary people can contribute significantly by joining community groups, speaking out against injustice, and educating future generations about equality, all vital to creating a fairer world for women. “When you are not alone, there is a multiplier effect to advance the collective action and take bold steps”.

In discussing how she balances work, education, and personal life, Fiorina shared insights into her career journey and her passion for learning and coaching. Fiorina talked about her shift from working with the UN to consulting and how it made her miss the human connection of mentoring and training, especially with everything going digital during the pandemic. Fiorina decided to get certified in coaching from a top institute to fill that gap, which she described as an enriching journey of personal growth. She stressed the importance of applying coaching techniques to her own life first: “I became more self-aware and goal-oriented”, she recognized. Using her experience in the workplace and with women entrepreneurs, Fiorina developed unique coaching programs like “She Leads” for women in their careers. She also mentioned her diplomat coaching program in Geneva and her collaboration with women’s groups on team-building activities. Fiorina highlighted how coaching focuses on future goals and action plans rather than dwelling on the past, and she finds joy in face-to-face coaching sessions where she creates a safe space for reflection and empowerment.

When asked about advice for individuals aspiring to impact international business development and entrepreneurship, Fiorina emphasised the importance of motivation and ambition. She encouraged individuals to dream big and pursue their goals with determination despite any obstacles. Fiorina believes that by daring to dream and taking small steps towards their aspirations, individuals can achieve extraordinary results and lead more fulfilling lives.

From her humble beginnings to her global impact, she inspires us to dream big, advocate for change, and make a positive difference. Thank you, Fiorina Mugione, for graciously sharing your remarkable journey and invaluable insights. You continue to make a meaningful impact on communities worldwide through your passion, resilience, and vision. Thank you, Fiorina, for your invaluable contributions and tireless efforts to create a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.

-Staff Reporter

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